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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Civil Society to UNHRC: Sri Lanka hasn’t make demonstrable progress in transitional justice

Image credit: SCRM.

Sending a singed letter to the members States of the United Nations Human Rights Council leading civil society members and some organisation says that , the Government is yet to make demonstrable progress in establishing transitional justice mechanisms.

The full letter follows:

We, the undersigned activists, academics and organisations from Sri Lanka, write this letter in the
lead up to the 34th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) at which Sri Lanka
is to be taken up for discussion as provided by the Resolution titled ‘Promoting Reconciliation,
Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka (Resolution 30/1).

In light of the limited progress made on the commitments made in Resolution 30/1, we urge you to support a comprehensive resolution that continues to monitor the situation in Sri Lanka and provides for the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to monitor and report back to the UNHRC in 18 months.

The continued engagement by the UNHRC on Sri Lanka is critical at a moment when significant
reforms are at stake. At the time of writing this letter, none of the four mechanisms committed to in
Resolution 30/1 have been established, despite expedited enactment of legislation for the Office of
Missing Persons (OMP) in August 2016. Nor is there demonstrable progress with legal reforms such
as the enactment of domestic legislation criminalising enforced disappearances, although recent
media reports allude to steps being taken to repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) to be
replaced by a proposed Counter Terrorism Act which is yet to be publicly shared.

While certain efforts including some land releases in the North and East and the enactment of legislation on the Certificates of Absence have been made, progress on most commitments is extremely disappointing.

It also needs to be noted that some violations have reduced in scale, but the very continuation of
such abuses have raised concerns that adequate steps are not being taken to ensure due protection
for human rights.

In the oral update by the High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Council, June 2016, concerns
were raised by him on the inaction of the Government of Sri Lanka. The High Commissioner went on
to urge the Government of Sri Lanka to have ‘a comprehensive strategy that enables it to pursue
different processes in a coordinated, integrated and appropriately sequenced manner. Such a strategy
would bring together the currently unwieldy coordination arrangements within Government and
facilitate greater coordination of international donor support. It should be backed up by a concerted
public information campaign that would mobilise the power and participation of civil society behind
the transitional justice process. This would also increase transparency and ensure that the current
consultation process with victims and civil society can be maximized and have a meaningful input into
the design of transitional justice mechanisms’. Unfortunately, the Government is yet to make
demonstrable progress on any of the above.

In 2015 we welcomed both the report of the OHCHR investigation on Sri Lanka and Resolution
30/1, hoping that the Government of Sri Lanka would initiate much needed reforms soon. The
report by the Consultations Task Force (CTF) released this month confirms the support among
progressive sections of the population across Sri Lanka for the commitments made in 2015, and
reiterates the need for urgent steps by the Government of Sri Lanka. In such a context, it is critical to continue to engage and support Sri Lanka to fulfil its commitment through extending the duration of
the resolution.
Thank you.

1. Afham J. Ismail
2. Ainslie Joseph – Convenor/Chief Animator, Christian Alliance for Social Action (CASA)
3. Anberiya Hanifa
4. Areeb Ahamed
5. Azhar Ahamed
6. B. Gowthaman
7. B. Nazrah Ismail
8. Bhavani Fonseka
9. Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe
10. Br. Lazar – Marist Brother
11. Brito Fernando
12. Chandrika De Silva
13. Deshamanya Godfrey Yogarajah
14. Dinuka Fernando
15. Dr. C.S. Jamunanantha
16. Dr. Isabelle Lassee
17. Dr. Jehan Perera
18. Dr. K. Ganeshaguru
19. Dr. Michael Fernando
20. Dr. Muzzammil Cader
21. Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
22. Dr. Paul Newman
23. Dr. Pushkar Raj
24. Emil van der Poorten – Defender of Human and Civil Rights
25. Fathima Razik Cader
26. Fazil M. Hussain
27. Gamini Viyangoda
28. Gayathri Gamage
29. Graham Williamson – Chairman, Nations without States
30. Hans Billimoria
31. Herman Kumara
32. Hilmy Ahamed
33. Iromi Perera
34. J.M. Ismail
35. Jacqueline
36. Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala
37. Joanne Senn
38. Joe William
39. K.N. Deen – Member of Board of Trustees and Past President – YMMA & Vice Chairman,
40. Kumaran Nadesan
41. Kumari Kumaragamage
42. Lucille Abeykoon
43. Manazir Ahamed
44. Marisa de Silva
45. Melisha Yapa
46. Mirak Raheem
47. Mujeebur Rahman P.M. – Journalist, Mannar
48. Munza Mushtaq – Journalist
49. Nimalka Fernando
50. P. Selvaratnam
51. Pas. Anton Iruthayakumaran – Philadelphia Assembly of God, Mannar
52. Philip Dissanayake
53. Philip Setunga
54. Ponniah Chandran
55. Prabu Deepan
56. Prof. Kumar David
57. Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole
58. Raja Senanayake
59. Rev. Fr. F. J. G. Croos (Nehru)
60. Rev. Fr. Jeyabalan Croos
61. Rev. Fr. Nandana Manatunga
62. Rev. Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda
63. Rev. Fr. V. Yogeswaran
64. Rev. Jason J. Selvaraja – Assembly of God, Chavakachcheri
65. Rev. Sr. Beatrice Fernando, SDS
66. Rev. Sr. Helen Fernando
67. Rev. Sr. Nichola SCJM
68. Rohini Weerasinghe
69. S. Abiramy
70. S.C.C. Elankovan
71. Saadiqa Fauz
72. Sanjana Hattotuwa
73. Sheila Richards
74. Shenali De Silva
75. Shiraz Salih
76. Shreen Saroor
77. Silma Ahamed
78. Subramaniyavel Ariharan – Former Student Union President – University of Jaffna
79. Sumi Kerison
80. Suren D. Perera
81. Thyagi Ruwanpathirana
82. Udaya Kalupathirana
83. Association of War Affected Women (AWAW)
84. Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)
85. Equal Ground
86. Families of the Disappeared (FoD)
87. Human Rights Organization (HRO), Kandy
88. INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre
89. Mannar Citizens Committee (MCC)
90. Mannar Women’s Development Federation (MWDF)
91. National Fisheries Solidarity Organization (NAFSO)
92. National Peace Council (NPC)
93. Right to Life Human Rights Center (R2L)
94. SAMADANA/M – Centre for promoting Nonviolence, Conflict Resolution & Handling and
Peace Building
95. South Asia Centre for Legal Studie


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